When filmmaker and designer Hillman Curtis died last week, I couldn’t say he was on my radar. After all, I’m a hack writer, not a visual artist. But when I saw the outpouring of respect and tributes from the film and design communities that followed his death, I realized I’d been missing out.
In the mid-90s, Curtis was a pioneer in leveraging Flash Player to expand what the rest of us thought was possible on the Web. Despite being at the top of the Web game, he later reinvented himself as a filmmaker. As you might imagine, Curtis excelled at filmmaking too. (You can read more about Hillman Curtis’s career and his specific accomplishments in this brief New York Times piece.)
The final video posted to Curtis’s well-stocked Vimeo channel is a short film simply titled, “HILLMAN”:
I loved hearing about his journey and craft in his own words. A little more than a minute into the film, Curtis said something that I jotted down immediately:
“When I started the Artist series, I put out some rules and some limitations for myself because I don’t think an artist does well without limitations.”
While Hillman Curtis leaves us a large body of work to admire and draw from, I think that quote might stick with me most of all. So often I’m seeking more when I should be seeking less. So often I’m desperate for boundless freedom when I should be desperate for a workstation to which I can chain myself. So often I’m struggling against my restraints instead of focusing on the creative work they make possible.
Good words, Mr. Curtis.
Scott McClellan is the Editor of Echo Hub and the Director of Echo Conference. You can follow him on Twitter: @scottmcclellan.